Madison Preparatory Academy Hearing Statement

Don Severson, via email:

DATE: October 3, 2011
TO: MMSD Board of Education
FROM: Don Severson, President, 577-0851, RE: Madison Preparatory Academy Hearing
Notes: For public appearance
The actions of the past few days are stunning, but not necessarily surprising ULGM (Madison Prep) and MTI have made working ‘arrangements’ regarding employment of teachers and staff and working conditions, the details of which have yet to be made public.
Major issue: ‘negotiations/arrangements’ have been made between MP & MTI without MMSD BOE nor administration at the table–both observed and verified by parties not involved.
In other words, MTI is the de facto negotiator for the Board and NOT the elected BOE, nor specified as its representative
ACE has publicly stated its support of MP. We must now withhold affirmation of that support until and unless major, systemic changes occur in how the proposal process and plans (both academic and business) play out.
By design, default, benign neglect or/and collusion the BOE has abdicated the authority vested in it by law and the electorate of the District with regards to its fiduciary irresponsibility and lack of control for policy-making.
Lest you are OK with your past and current operating methods; have forgotten how you are demonstrating your operating methods; or don’t care, you have been elected to be the leader and be in charge of this District, not MTI.
By whatever BOE action or in-action has thus far been demonstrated, the proposed operational direction of MP has been reduced to appearing and acting in the mirror image of the District. This is inappropriate to say the least. The entire purpose of a charter school is to be different and to get different results.
How is forcing MP to operate in essentially the same fashion as the District and at a cost of more money….any different from….operating the District’s nearly 30 current alternative/innovative programs and services for 800 students, at millions of dollars, taking away from other students in the District? And, you can’t even produce data to show what differences, if any, are being made with these students.
This current Board, and past Boards of Education have proven over and over again that spending more money and doing essentially the same things, don’t get different results (speaking here essentially about the ‘achievement gap’ issue)
Continuing to speak bluntly, the Board’s financial and academic philosophies, policies and actions are inconsistent, phony and discriminatory.
Let us be clear…
The process for consideration of the Madison Prep charter school proposal must

  • be open and public
  • be under the leadership of the BOE
  • be accountable to the BOE and the public
  • have ALL stakeholders at the same table at ALL times

Thank you.

PDF Version.
Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.

One thought on “Madison Preparatory Academy Hearing Statement”

  1. Don’s position on MMSD, BOE and MTI regarding Mad Prep is so far off the mark that I might assume he’s been smoking the curtains in his house again
    MTI is an independent organization, as is Mad Prep. To emphasize further, MTI is not a subsidiary of either BOE or MMSD. Having stated the obvious, let me add a little more reality.
    The right to contract is still an accepted legal doctrine, and some would say it is enshrined in the Constitution. That said, Mad Prep can contract for services with any entity it chooses.
    There is, of course, the issue of the relative bargaining power of Mad Prep and MTI. Because Mad Prep decided to become a charter school under MMSD, and MTI has a negotiated contract with MMSD that requires MTI teachers to be used in schools supported by MMSD, it seems clear that MTI has, via legally enforceable contract, certain contractual rights under that contract, which neither MMSD, the BOE nor Mad Prep can ignore.
    Neither MMSD or BOE gave up, nor did they abdicate any responsibility they have. Given the contractual obligations, MMSD and BOE simply cannot breach that contract with MTI.
    Like other schools in the area, Mad Prep can make its services available as a private school, not a taxpayer-funded entity. Then MMSD’s contractual obligations to MTI would not be an issues. This may not be practical, but that is legal the reality.
    Even if Mad Prep was a private school, they could contract with MTI for teachers. In such a case, the bargaining power of Mad Prep and MTI coming in to such negotiations would be different, but again the right to contract would still be preserved.
    Not knowing what the agreement between MTI and Mad Prep is, it could be very beneficial to Mad Prep and the teachers. I could imagine many current experienced MMSD teachers would appreciate getting out from under the red tape of MMSD, and go to a school that promises more success than is the case at MMSD. I know of many teachers who are quite tired of taking the blame for poor student performance when MMSD is demanding more from the teachers but giving little support or resources in return. Most teachers would love to teach to a curriculum that isn’t dumbed down.
    It might even be that the MTI teachers at Mad Prep would be willing to accept lesser pay for not having to teach in a combat zone.

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